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p27 [J G Deck] MY BELOVED BROTHER, - I have waited to reply to your letter till our London troubles could at least be seen through. You will have sorrow at any rate, but God has been most gracious to us. It was a question of the existence of brethren. Satan made a violent effort to destroy their testimony. I had long felt it was in the air, and it pressed on me to return to England, though till I was back there was nothing precise in my mind. Dear Wigram, three years ago, said (not to me) that it was all over: he did to me in his last illness. But I felt the Lord was above it, and above everything, and so He has been. I suspect it helped to keep him out of England, and I believe hastened his end, though he had long been ailing. But Satan's effort has been confounded. There are details to be brought into order outside London, where, as it seems to me, they acted too hastily, though right at heart. But in London there is common action, and peace, and, save the places I have alluded to, clear conviction all over the country. … I was in France nearly all the time - at first suffered intensely, but was enabled to commit it to the Lord, and pray. And though I put my finger on the public act, now judged, I took no other part, unless a soothing one to individuals, and on my return to England went to no meetings about it (but continued to pray the Lord) till the very last. But the Lord's hand was there, and I trust many consciences awakened all over the country; and this is what I have rejoiced in, for brethren had declined, the world crept in, and it was the fullest truth, with generally practice little better than their neighbours. I had, before it broke out, anxiously thought about leaving the public body of brethren, but felt it would not be faith.

What I am anxious about now is that there should be a real testimony; I mean, unworldly, spiritual, devoted, such as ought to be with such truth as is given us, and such wondrous grace. The Lord has spared the testimony. What do we not owe Him, unworthy as we were? But I look to and trust the Lord for it. Who else can do it? I do look to His blessed goodness and love for, to me, a greater, though not so visible work as the bringing us out of the strait we were in. This is the thing that presses on my heart now, that a true living testimony may be given. Bethesda was nothing to what we have gone through, because B. was outside. But except the two places I have alluded to, which may require patience, I do not know one soul that has been lost to the path we are in, God's path I believe. I think of writing a little paper on what I hope for. But at present I am living under the sense of the wonderful goodness of God. I am thankful more than I can tell.

What as to my own state, beloved brother, I believe has kept me, for it is God's absolute grace always, is that I have from my starting had no thought of myself but of being wholly vile. I know it more than ever: as I drew nearer to God I saw more of what vileness was. And I have, though I well know it is all grace, been consciously nearer to God now a good long while - I trust more consciously and settledly so; yet it is all grace. One cannot be near to Him without knowing it is so and wishing it to be so. He has kept me, even outwardly, wonderfully. I cannot go long journeys on foot as I used, but otherwise, though in two months I begin my eightieth year holding my two meetings a day often, and in the open air. His goodness never fails. Yet I have had sorrows plenty, but that is all right: soon there will be the opposite. What a joy, besides Christ, to see all the saints exactly what His heart would have them; what an immense joy - all to His glory, the eternal witness to the efficacy of His work! I have learned more than ever in these last affairs to count on the Lord. … I have been having some good meetings here among the mountains of the Ard├Ęche, chiefly among the Christians.

Ever affectionately yours

September.